I’ve never given much weight to New Year’s. And I certainly don’t give too much consideration to the “new year, new me” lifestyle.
The way I see it, things don’t change much from one year to the next. The same day-to-day things are happening and the main change is writing the wrong year in the date for the first couple weeks of January.
I do like to reflect a little bit, though. Who doesn’t? And this year… well this year, there’s a lot to reflect on.
If you haven’t seen The Phoenix’s section-by-section year in review, I highly recommend you check it out. It’s where a lot of my reflection began.
As I sifted through stories to include in our special coverage at the end of the year, I was reminded just how much time has gone by. Each story with my byline or under my edits gave me something new this year. A tougher skin. A more empathetic heart. A keener eye for AP style.
I like to look at my life through my reporting. I have a story, sure. But I’ve dedicated my life to telling someone else’s.
This year, I told the story of a sexual assault survivor. I sat through hours of interviews, flipped through pages and pages of documents, tracked down Chicago police, sat outside the office of Loyola’s Title IX officials and pored over my own draft until I couldn’t see straight. I’m proud to have told that story.
This year, I told the story of a Chicago artist who saw such stark segregation in her city. She analyzed it, visualized it, talked about it. Eventually, she represented it through art and human connection. I’m proud to have told that story.
This year, I told the story of a political newcomer who shook things up in Rogers Park by unseating a 28-year incumbent. I’m proud to have told that story.
I’m proud of every story I’ve written and edited. I’m proud of my decision to be a journalist. But above all, I’m proud of what being a journalist has done for me as a human — a human with a tougher skin, a more empathetic heart, a keener eye for AP style.
I also use these stories as a measuring tape in my own life. When I look back at my old stories I usually take the time to think about what I was doing, where I was, how I was feeling. A lot can change in a year, that’s no secret. And I changed a little bit with each story. So in a way, I look back on who I was at that time, too.
This year, I also got to tell a bit of my own story in the form of four inches of print space per week allotted to my thoughts, and my thoughts only. Scary, isn’t it?
If you’ve been following this column, you know I’ve had my fair share of loss this year. Perhaps more than my fair share.
“Your readers are going to think you’re fishing for sympathy with all these death articles,” one text from my brother read.
No fishing involved. Just thoughts and emotions on paper. Sometimes that’s all you can do. This column — the whole paper, really — has been the emotional catharsis I didn’t know I needed.
And I’ve grown with every word I wrote.
Here’s to 2020. Here’s to the growth, the sadness, the pain, the excitement, the smiles and the chaos it might bring. Cheers.